Monday, July 4, 2011

How much can you buy with a hundred shek?

Yom sheni, 2 Tamuz 5771.

As it was the first Sunday of summer vacation, the bus was typically very full.  Soldiers, giggling girls, mothers shlepping several little ones.  I sat down next to a young female soldier who was busy texting.  (I wish I could type that fast with just my thumbs!)

At every stop, the seats filled up, until eventually a young mother sat down on the steps with two small children.  I looked back to where they sat behind me, and noticed a hundred shekel bill on the floor near them.

I picked it up, and offered it to the mother.  She said it was not hers.  No one near her claimed it either.  As it was folded the way I fold my own, I checked my purse to be sure that it was not mine.  My bill was folded right where I had left it.  So, I got up and walked to the back of the bus, trying to remember who had boarded after me.

I offered the bill to everyone as I made my way through the bus.  A young solider in the back row of seats turned to his seat mate and said with exaggerated surprise, "Ohhhhhh, you remember that hundred shek bill I dropped earlier?" Even though I knew he was playing, I held the bill out to him; but he laughingly refused it.  "Staaaam!  Just kidding."

I went back to my seat.  I asked the soldier next to me to remind me of the grammar:  "How do I say "dropped" in Hebrew?"  She quickly went through a short lesson in Hebrew grammar, working out with me if I wanted a passive verb, or an active past tense verb.  (Everyone in Israel seems ready to be a teacher, if I ask.)

I walked up and gave the bill to the bus driver, explaining that someone had dropped it.  Thanks to my soldier-teacher, he understood me, and took the bill.  Of course I cannot know what became of it after that.  Did someone come forward, grateful that money was not lost after all?  Did the bus driver pocket it, turn it into lost and found, drop it into a pushke?  I don't know, and I don't especially care.

Right now, the value of a hundred shekel bill is close to $30.  If the behavior on the bus is not something you are accustomed to in your part of the world, you will understand why I never tire of "only in Israel" stories.  If it is something you are used to, then you are very blessed.

I would like to dedicate as much of that busload of honesty as possible to a refua shelaima for my dear friend Tzuriya Kochevet bat Sara Imeinu.  May we do as many acts of kindness and honesty as possible, and may they help us to pay for a healthy, whole, completely-repaired world.

Haveil Havalim #320, the Summertime Edition, is up at Frume Sarah's World.  Yeshiva Bochur, writing as "Exiled Warrior," has an excellent post published there.  Please shep nachas with me!


Henya said...

Last week we went to the Kivrei Tzaddikim with DDs. The bus was running very late on the way back. When we did the head count as we were ready to live the last stop we discovered to our dismay that 3 young ladies were not on the bus. We waited for them for almost an hour! And while some very strong opinions were expressed no one did not even raise a question of leaving without them. I love this attitude. said...

fantastic. in the past 3 days that i've been in ny, i've reveled in the abundant moisture (it rained all day yesterday!) and tall trees that were planted over 200 years ago, but i've been yearning for the purity of soul that is in israel. may your words be a chizuk for stella in her hour of need, and may we only share happy news soon.

Miriam said...

Ruti, beautiful story..
Only in Israel tales are great. I told some to a friend from Toronto and she was amazed.
Just image a total stranger handing you her precious baby to hold while she goes and pays the driver in America or Canada or anywhere else. Only in Israel can the mother be sure you won't run off with her child.


Hillel Levin said...


When we first made Aliyah someone asked me if we were going to buy a car.

I said, "why would I want a car? I get on bus and I am with 40-50 of my brothers and sisters."

Ain't being home great!! Don't you wish the rest of the family (all 6 million of them) would join us?


in the vanguard said...

I don't want to toot my own horn, after so nice a story that can only happen in Eretz Yisrael, where the people are, in Song of Songs, in one verse, called, "My horse among the chariots of Pharoah."

but the latest post on my blog will explain this strange compliment:

rutimizrachi said...

Henya: Agreed! Your post on your trip, as well as posts about your family and your beautiful needlework, add to the joy of living in Israel. Thank you for making aliyah with your beautiful family!

Sara: Amen. Hurry home, Girlfriend. We need that wonderful sense of hoda'ah back here in the Holy Land.

Miriam: Another great example. I have seen that kind of trust many times here. Can't imagine it happening quite the same way on a city bus in Baltimore.

Hillel: Yes, indeed. It is your attitude of total love for all of your siblings that will help to bring Moshiach... and that seems to be the impetus that a lot of Yidden in Chu"l are awaiting.

ITV: Nice teich!

westbankmama said...

Great story!

Anonymous said...

I am impressed! Thanks for showing me such a positive aspect of human nature.

Lael said...

You can't buy goodness. it is created one mitvah at a time.

rutimizrachi said...

WBM: I love swapping stories with you, Girlfriend!

Ilana Davita: These stories are the fuel that keep me going, and keep my natural cynicism at bay. Glad to share.

Lorriedel Lael:

Exactly. We have our work cut out for us; but G-d knows we can do it, so we can. I tell my boys that every encounter with another human being is either a kiddush Hashem (a sanctification of G-d's name) or a chillul Hashem (a desecration of G-d's name, Heaven forbid). There is no such thing as a "pareve" encounter, and meeting with another human being that "doesn't matter."

the sabra said...

Amen. We definitely need this world repaired.

I copied that 'refuah shleima' image onto my blog.